The owner of Twitter accuses the journalists of endangering his family while press groups condemn the suspensions.
Twitter abruptly suspended more than half a dozen journalists in the United States who reported critically on the social media platform’s new owner, Elon Musk.
The suspensions, which occurred without warning Thursday night, came as Musk accused journalists of endangering his family by “doxing” or revealing non-public information about his location.
The suspended journalists include reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The Intercept and Voice of America.
“Bashing me all day is totally fine, but cheating on my real-time location and endangering my family is not,” Musk wrote on Twitter, adding that “the same reporting rules apply to ‘journalists’ than everyone else.”
Musk then accused the journalists of posting “basically murder coordinates” in violation of the platform’s policies.
Flight tracking data collected by the United States Federal Aviation Administration is public information and is routinely shared online by private websites such as FlightAware and Flightradar24.
Although the exact reasons for the individual suspensions were unclear, several of the suspended journalists, including the Washington Post’s Drew Harwell and CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan, had written about Twitter’s suspensions of flight and plane tracking accounts. Musk.
O’Sullivan said during an appearance on CNN after his suspension that he had not shared the precise live location of Musk’s plane.
All of the suspended journalists, who also include Ryan Mac of the New York Times and Micah Lee of The Intercept, have also written criticisms of Twitter and Musk in general.
Ella Irwin, Twitter’s director of trust and safety, told NPR that the platform would suspend “any account that violates privacy policies and puts other users at risk,” but declined to elaborate on individual decisions.
The suspension prompted expressions of concern from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and press freedom advocates.
Sally Buzbee, editor-in-chief of the Washington Post, said Harwell’s suspension “undermines Elon Musk’s claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech.”
Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, a press freedom advocacy group, said Musk had shown himself inadequate for the responsibility of running the influential social media platform.
“Is it sustainable for reporters to stay here now that Musk has made it clear that they are here for his pleasure and that he will expel them if they cross his arbitrary lines?” Jaffer wrote on Twitter.
Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist, has vowed to encourage a diversity of viewpoints on Twitter and address what he sees as its liberal bias under the platform’s previous administration.
Since taking over the platform in a $44 billion deal in October, Musk has cut Twitter’s workforce, revised its moderation policies and restored previously banned accounts, including that of the former US president. ,Donald Trump.
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